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Govt seeks ways to curb project delays, overruns

ISAAC PINIELO
Ebineng
The Ministry of Transport and Communications is looking for ways to overcome cost and schedule overruns in development projects, a Parliamentary committee on communications, works, transport and technology was told this week.

Appearing before the committee, permanent secretary in the Ministry, Kabelo Ebineng said virtually all of the projects they are currently implementing are behind schedule.

“This will ultimately result in project extensions of time leading to cost overruns,” he said. In most projects, Ebineng said it was established that there is a lack of project management, noting that the Ministry needs to set up a project management office that will be manned by a well-resourced project management officer.

He said the officer would be expected to have proficient expertise in resource and work planning and control, budget management, change management and product quality control.

Project management is the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria.

In this way, he indicated that the project management officer would be able to support projects and programmes independently. According to Ebineng, the lack of proper project management has led to the country losing billions of pula.

Meanwhile, he said the Charleshill-Ncojane road is running behind schedule at 48% of progress, due to a dispute between the contractor and the supervising consultant.

He said the dispute bordered  around a complaint raised by Zac Construction, the project contractor who is querying the involvement of the consultant, Bothakga Burrow, who was also a bidder for the project and lost.

“Apparently, the consultant was one of the bidders in the tender for the project, but he lost then he only managed to win the tender for being supervising contractor,

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which Zac Construction is disputing saying it is a conflict of interest,” Ebineng said.

The dispute has been going on since June last year with the Ministry hopeful of finding a way to resolve it, Ebineng added.

He indicated that the road, which spans about 110 kilometres, was as of May sitting at 36km, which he said is way behind time, as the project was supposed to be completed in 2018. This is not the only project under the Ministry’s watch that is experiencing implementation delays.

Another project is the Kazungula Bridge, a 923-metre-long road and rail bridge under construction over the Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia at Kazungula, which is supposed to be completed in 2018.

Ebineng said the $259.3 million (P2.61bn) project would not be completed on time due to some challenges that the contractor encountered with the use of sub-standard cement from Zambia.

“We expect an overrun and we are now looking at July 2019 for completion of this project,” Ebineng said. The other one under the Ministry that is experiencing delays is the 1.2km-long Mohembo Bridge project in Okavango, which is a joint venture between Itinera and Cimolai with CPP Botswana as the supervising consultant. He said the billion-pula project, which is expected to run for 36 months, is also running behind schedule, as there is a dispute over the compensation of some residents.

He also revealed that the upgrading of the Gaborone-Boatle road is also delayed due to relocation of services such as water and power.



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